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Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
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Kolymsky Heights (1994)

by Lionel Davidson

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3952627,097 (3.7)20
  1. 00
    Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: More intrigue at sub-zero temperatures
  2. 00
    Kim by Rudyard Kipling (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both these books feature cunning, clever spies who speak several languages and can pass for several different nationalities - they are also both great adventures.
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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is not a fast paced action thriller, rather a well-written espionage tale reminiscent of le Carre. It builds slowly with exquisite detail. 4 strong stars. It would have been 4.5 but I could never feel that the information our hero worked so hard to get was really worth what he did to get it. ( )
  mysterymax | Jun 14, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I feel very privileged to have enjoyed every moment of this thunderous read. I was sad to learn of author Lionel Davidson's passing, but I hope the publishers of this work of art are contemplating another means of bringing our hero, Johnny Porter, to life in print or on screen. This would make a blistering movie!
Davidson's tempo works well for a complex plot and likable characters, both in intimate moments and - especially - during the heart-thumping final ride. The author's capacity to so vividly contrive sub-Arctic north-east Siberia is truly remarkable and comes alive on every page.
Johnny Porter is a brilliantly conceived character, truly "the one man alive who can achieve the impossible". The author takes his time revealing the breadth and depths of the Porter character, and within the first descriptions of him, you're going to be hooked.
There's a sci-fi undercurrent to the plot, with bad Russians, crass Americans and hard-bitten East Asian characters leading us from sleepy Oxford to the frozen Kolyma. At each separate scene along the way, unpredictable twists and turns challenge you as if to say, 'I dare you to put this book down'. The best thriller I've enjoyed in years and years.
I'm not normally one for long introductions, but Philip Pullman's piece certainly whetted my appetite for the main attraction. He deserves credit for setting the stage revealing nothing of the plot. ( )
  fizzypops | Jun 10, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Kolymsky Heights is a marvelous adventure story, notable for the exotic setting of most of the story in the remotest, most secret parts of Siberia. Johnny Porter, a full-blooded Canadian Gitksan Indian, who is also a polymath and has a knack for picking up languages is tracked down and asked to respond to a message from a Russian scientist he met years before, who has requested that he come to the secret Siberian base where he is carrying out research, because apparently Porter is the only man who can understand—or perhaps the only one he trusts. But how does one get to a closed-off base in Siberia, where all the scientists working there know they will never be allowed to leave? That is where the pleasure of this story comes in. Davidson takes us through a detailed, well thought-out plan that first has Porter impersonating a Korean seaman, then…well, you should just read and find out. And if getting in is tough, getting out is even harder. There are great characters in this book who are either trying to catch Porter or are knowingly or unknowingly aiding him. What drives Porter, other than a sense of curiosity and determination to overcome any obstacle, is hard to define for much of the book, but by the end, perhaps we can understand his inner life a bit better. There is so much to love in this book. It isn’t often that scenes of someone driving through the snow and darkness can be so completely absorbing. The settings, whether various places in Siberia, the ship, or Japan are so real you can see them as you read. Philip Pullman, in his introduction (which you should read afterwards although there are no huge spoilers), calls this the best thriller he has ever read. He is definitely on to something. Few books present such a fascinating protagonist in such a well-drawn setting. I’ll be heading to the used book store tomorrow to find other books by Lionel Davidson. From their descriptions, they provide the same sort of in-depth pleasure this one does. ( )
  datrappert | May 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Good Cold War novel. Great story of a man sent out to discover a mystery with very little support or plan or reason to go other than the adventure. Was very realistic and plausible. Reminded me of "Last of the Breed" by Louis L'Amour. ( )
  cwflatt | May 17, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Davidson could write an excellent and exciting chase scene, but that is really all I can say about the book. Secret message sent from Serbia sends hero Johnny Porter around the globe to finally end up in the secret Russian research station. Davidson hero is too amazing to be taken seriously. Master of disguise, master of languages, can build a jeep in a cave, it like he's Doc Savage team of helpers all rolled into one.
A writer has to be able to make the reader believe in plots, it just didn't work for me. ( )
  bjbookman | May 13, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312956614, Paperback)

Johnny Porter, a rebel with a gift for language and disguise, discovers a Russian scientific secret that could either be used to improve the world or destroy it. Reprint. NYT.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:56 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The hero is Johnny Porter, an Oxford-educated Canadian Indian who is an accomplished linguist and master of disguise. The CIA sends him to Russia to obtain information on a genetics program. He enrolls as a Korean deckhand on a ship in Japan, crosses Siberia as a truck driver--in which capacity he meets beautiful Dr. Tanya Komarov--picks up the information and in a hail of bullets dashes home across the Bering Straits. By the author of The Night of the Wenceslas.… (more)

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